BEST pushes to improve ‘backward-looking’ transportation plan

By Steve Piercy
November 11, 2021

On urging from BEST and other advocates, the Metropolitan Policy Committee (MPC) has extended the time for review of the draft Central Lane Regional Transportation Plan (RTP).

“This is a backward-looking plan with too many legacy projects left over from the 20th Century,” said BEST Executive Director Rob Zako. “The good news is that policymakers heard us loud and clear. They appear to be grappling with how to think differently and do much better.”

The RTP is important because it guides the spending of an estimate $1.65 billion in funding for transportation projects and programs (plus a comparable amount for transportation maintenance) that will flow into the Eugene-Springfield area over the next 20 years.

Advocates turned out at the November 4, 2021 meeting of the MPC to ask policymakers to improve the draft plan and allow more time for the public to be engaged.

The good news is that policymakers heard us loud and clear and appear to be grappling with how to think differently and do much better.

Rob Zako, BEST executive director

The draft plan proposes spending mostly on roads for motor vehicles, and even so, appears to do little to reduce congestion or travel delays for drivers.

The draft plan also is not projected to change travel patterns significantly, to move more people away from driving when possible. It therefore does far too little to slow climate change, and the draft simply assumes that auto-centric sprawl will continue as the dominant land-use policy.

“Having started my transportation career back in 1998 looking at TransPlan, I must say that I am very encouraged by the interest and responsiveness of policymakers today. I believe we have a huge opportunity and responsibility to encourage them to do things differently and better,” Zako said.

There will be a second public hearing on the plan on Thursday, December 2, 11:30 AM. Public comments will be accepted through December 10. Read BEST’s recommendations.

Based on public comment, the MPC may revise the draft RTP plan for further consideration in January, 2022.

Other advocates who turned out were Kaarin Knudson of Better Housing Together, Terry Parker of the League of Women Voters and 350 Eugene, Sue Wolling of the City of Eugene’s Active Transportation Committee (ATC), and Webb Sussman, former chair of Central Lane Citizen Advisory Committee.